Sunday, 28 May 2017

Sale: shiMMer tickets

Have you bought your tickets for shiMMer yet? We have a sale until tomorrow (29th June) over HERE.

The MM author book signing is on 1st July in Birmingham.

I have books and swag, and I am ready to fangirl some of my favourite authors.

See you there!

FREE: A Cock in the Window

A Cock in the Window, my romance with sleuthing, gift shop owning, murder-mystery tale, (I think that just about sums it up), is FREE at Instafreebie, until June 3rd

Blurb:

Kit Stone hides away in his shabby gift shop, supplementing his income by editing romance books. In his spare moments Kit carves wooden cocks but he never expects the model of one of his carvings to step into his shop. Steve Mullins is gorgeous and pushes all of Kit's buttons. For a few days they get to know each other and Kit is the happiest he's been for years. Then one of the local businessmen is murdered and Steve discovers the body. When Steve becomes the number one suspect, Kit discovers his friends and family have been hiding a dark secret.


Thursday, 18 May 2017

FREE: Stormin' Norman


I have a great fondness for Stormin' Norman. I never thought the final book of the Lyon Road Vets series would become a prequel to Morning My Angel, but it did, and I'm offering it FREE across the sites, for readers who want to know more about Jesse and Dan.


Buylinks: Amazon: Smashwords: Kobo: Barnes & Noble








Series Information:

Book #1 Hairy Harry's Car Seat
Book #2 Bob the Destroyer of Leads
Book #3 Hazel Takes Over
Book #4 Stormin' Norman


Dan had been Jesse’s partner for many years, and always there for Jesse on his return from difficult assignments. However, after breaking his promise not to leave again, Jesse learns to his cost that Dan can be pushed too far. When he returns home, broken in body and spirit, Jesse finds his house empty and Dan in the arms of someone else.

To fill his life, Jesse decides to get a dog. His friends and neighbours take him to choose a puppy. What he doesn’t expect is for Norman to choose him. As Jesse takes on a new job, with Norman’s assistance, he realises that Dan isn’t far away, and he still loves him. Dan has moved on with his life. Can Jesse do the same?


Excerpt

Jesse knew he was being scoped out from the minute he entered the bar. It was his job to be vigilant, to be aware of any potential danger to himself or others. The man with his gaze fixed on Jesse had the potential to be dangerous, but it had nothing to do with harm and a whole lot to do with a sexual package wrapped up in lean muscle and topped with dark eyes and tousled hair.

He had come to the gay bar knowing it would be quiet this time of day. He just wanted a beer and a chance to unwind without being hit on by hopeful women. In this bar, he could head off any potential interest easily enough and relax. The guy watching him was destined to be disappointed, even as cute as he was. Jesse wasn’t interested.

The barman stopped polishing the glasses and grinned at Jesse. “You’re back again. It’s been a while.”

Jesse inclined his head. It had been ten months, three weeks and five days. He was anal enough to keep records of his whereabouts in case his handler needed to know.

“I’ve been working. It’s good to be back.” He scanned the pumps, searching for the real ale. “Hobgoblin, please, Sean.”

The barman gossiped about the recent gas explosion in the pub down the road Jesse listened with half his attention, keeping an eye on the dark-haired bloke in the corner.

The man didn’t disappoint. As soon as Jesse had his beer, he came over and sat on the bar stool next to Jesse. To give him credit, he didn’t piss about.

“Hi, I’m Dan.”

Jesse assessed him carefully. He was older than he’d appeared in the shadows—early forties maybe, the start of lines around his eyes and a sprinkle of grey at his temples. Not Jesse’s type. Jesse was in his mid-thirties. He usually went for men younger than him, searching for uncomplicated hook-ups and nothing more.

“Hi.” Jesse didn’t say any more, hoping his off-hand tone would tell the guy he was wasting his time.

Dan ordered another beer and turned back to him. “I haven’t seen you in here before.”

“I’ve been away.”

“Do you want a beer, a chat, and then see what happens?”

His approach caught Jesse’s attention. Normally blokes started off with “Do you wanna fuck me?” Nine times out of ten Jesse said no.

“I’m not the marrying kind,” Jesse said.

Dan blinked. “I asked you for a beer, not a ring.”

Jesse shrugged. “You’re older than me. I thought I’d get that off the table.”

“Thanks,” Dan said drily. “So all older men are desperate for a ring and kids. I’ll remember that next time I ask for a hook-up. I’ll only go for the younger twinks.” He got up and smiled sadly at Jesse. “Sometimes a beer is just a beer.”






Saturday, 13 May 2017

FREE: Mr Plum

Mr Plum, my gentle commuter romance, is FREE at Instafreebie for a week. Click here for your free copy!

Mr Plum can be found on Amazon here.

Each morning, Dave gets his morning coffee from the tiny coffee shop on platform 4, whilst he waits for his train. One morning he notices that the man in front of him gets the cup with plum-coloured sleeve, which matches the stripe in his tie, earning him the name Mr Plum. Plum is Dave's favourite colour. He notices details like that.

With the unsubtle help of Kai, the barista, a gentle romance starts between Dave and Mr Plum, aka Tom. A romance conducted in front of the commuters of the 8:50 to London Waterloo.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Mainstream Books with LGBT characters

Over the years, I've read a book or five. Reading mainstream books came to a screeching ten years ago when I discovered fanfiction, and then the MM genre. I've never really got back into reading mainstream books, but a post on Facebook about horror reminded me of a James Herbert book, Sepulchre.

One of the things I'd forgotten about the book was the gay couple in the book. I ought to add this is horror, not a romance, so don't be expecting a happy ever after.

Thinking about this book reminded me how many mainstream books I've read over the years with LGBT characters. I didn't set out to buy books with gay characters. This was before I spent much time on the computer, so I came across them by accident.

I read most genres except romance (then), and finding LGBT characters treated respectfully was a real bonus. I'm going to reread and review some of these books, starting with Sepulchre. I'm looking forward to a trip down memory lane. I'd love to find other mainstream books with LGBT characters, so if you have a favourite, please leave a comment.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Queer British Art at the Tate

Gluck (Hannah Gluckstein) Self-Portrait 1942 Collection
& © National Portrait Gallery, London
Yesterday, I spent a very enjoyable afternoon with JL Merrow wandering around the Queer British Art exhibition at the Tate Britain.

Let's talk about logistics...

I had been warned it was in the basement, which annoyed the hell out of me; relegating the queer art away from the main thoroughfare. But as that area encompassed the cafe, loos and cloakroom (coffee in, coffee out), I was happy. Not so far to walk, and we could sit outside to swig coffee and chat to the pigeons. The rooms are spacious but sterile. I didn't get any atmosphere which for me, is part of the reason for visiting galleries.

Let's talk about the exhibition...

The art and artists span from 1861 to 1967, the year I was born. It had significance for me. This was a world before my living memory.

I really enjoyed the exhibition, with a few reservations. The art was varied enough to interest me, from paintings, sculpture, books, costume etc. And I was pleased to realise just how many of the artists I've already come across. There was joy in the exhibits, the pleasure of sharing the lives of the artists in their medium. Contrast that with the harsh reality of being gay, bi and trans in an era where one wrong word could lead to social disgrace and prison. Gay men were under constant threat of jail and Oscar Wilde's prison door was a stark reminder of how men were treated.

Although homosexuality in women wasn't a criminal offence, they were forced to marry and have children, doubtless a form of prison for some. The exhibition also highlighted how women's art was largely ignored (the parallels to modern day struggles for women in creative media makes me wonder how far we've progressed). One gallery showed paintings by women, where they painted themselves into the portrait, to the censure of male critics, more used to the power balance of the male artist and his nude subject.

The Evening Standard has an article about the female artists who broke the rule of gender. 

"With Self portrait and Nude (1913), Laura Knight challenged hundreds of years of patriarchal art history with just one painting. It’s simple: she paints herself painting a nude model, her friend Ella Naper.
“It feels quite cheeky,” says actress Hattie Morahan, who played Knight in the film Summer in February. Given that women weren’t allowed to do life drawing from real people, “it’s a bit of a sticking two fingers up at the establishment. It’s a rebuff to classical nudes through history and the male gaze."
"The fact you’ve got this dual portrait of a woman clothed and a woman unclothed immediately makes you think about what it means to objectify a woman. It’s taking ownership of the most common subject in art history essentially,” she says."

Some of the art left me cold. I don't appreciate modern art, and if I have to stand there and wonder what the art is representing, I don't bother. If that makes me a philistine so be it. There are plenty of people who do appreciate more abstract art.

Let me talk about what is missing...

I grew up visiting National Trust buildings every weekend. White wealthy history on display in fine architecture, gardens and possessions. I am still a National Trust member and take great pleasure in visiting their properties. But, it is very obvious we are shown an Upstairs (see Upstairs, Downstairs) view of their lives.

This is how I feel about this exhibition. These were white, wealthy men and women (or with wealthy patrons), with time and money to indulge their desires and pour it into their art. The working class and people of colour were there to be subjects of their art. This isn't surprising and I'm not criticising the curation. But I do see why some of the comments at the end were from queer people of colour left out in the cold by the exhibition.

That leaves me with the postcards at the end from LGBTQI visitors. I could have just had them to read and it would have been worth it. Especially the one talking about hope and rainbows from the Russian visitor.







Saturday, 29 April 2017

FREE: Morning My Angel

My romantic-with a hint of comedy-London based whodunnit is FREE until May 1st on Amazon!

BuylinksAmazon - on Kindle Unlimited

Now on Goodreads here

Blurb:
Josh Cooper, top US security field agent, is sent on an inter-agency assignment to London, when a partner in his firm goes missing in suspicious circumstances. Used to working in sole charge of his well-honed team, he clashes heads with the handsome, but pompous Cal, his UK co-operator and superior. Josh’s gut tells him something is wrong. He’s being kept out of the loop and Cal’s agenda is running on a different path.

He also has a personal issue to deal with. He’s involved in a cyber-relationship with “Charlie”, an unknown man who connected with Josh by accident. Their banter has led to deeper respect and a sexual interest, but now Josh is faced with a growing attraction to Cal. Between this conflict and the tension of the mission, Josh’s heart and head are overworked and confused. Things can’t get much worse.

Then Josh discovers the enemies he’s seeking have a new target: him.

And if you like Morning My Angel, book two in the series is now out, Goodnight My Angel.


Excerpt

The message popped up as soon as Josh Cooper logged on.

“Morning Angel.”

Josh blew the message a kiss and typed a greeting in return.

“Morning Charlie. Need coffee.”

Any further communication would have to wait until Josh found caffeine. After two years Charlie knew Josh wasn’t in the mood to talk until his blood stream was eighty per cent caffeine.

Of course, Josh wasn’t really Angel and Charlie was… whoever he was… but if they wanted to greet each other like relics from a seventies TV show then it was no one’s business but their own. Their relationship—if IM could be called a relationship—had started two weeks after Josh began at CDR, when CDR053 had messaged Josh by mistake. When he wouldn’t give his name, Josh had dubbed the mysterious stranger Charlie. The minute Charlie had called Josh his angel; Josh knew Charlie was sent by his goddess, Farrah Fawcett, to brighten his existence. But he didn’t hear from Charlie every day. Sometimes weeks would go by without a word but, when he’d log on and receive a “Morning Angel”, Josh would send up a thanks to Farrah for making his day golden.

Josh blew one more kiss at the computer even though Charlie couldn’t see it, and wandered off to find life-saving coffee. It was just after nine in the morning and he was about to drink cup number four, which would elevate him from zombie to almost human. He was unashamedly addicted and if he encountered one of those ‘green tea plucked from the Himalayas only on a full moon in a month beginning with Z’ types he wouldn’t apologize for what came out of his mouth. He liked his coffee black and strong, just like his… dog. Josh didn’t have a dog either.

Whenever he said that people would smirk at him and he’d smirk back. He didn’t care what they thought he was going to say. Josh didn’t give a fuck if his men were black, white, built or tiny. When a guy tried it on, Josh stabbed a finger in his chest. “If you think picking me up and banging me against a wall is a sign of a real man you can think again. ‘Sides, I can probably put you on the floor before you lay on finger on me.” And then he would demonstrate. Josh was a show-not-tell man, and the guys who picked themselves up and ran away weren’t worth his time of day. Enough of them dusted off their butt and stayed to make the demonstration worthwhile.

Josh filled his mug with fresh brewed coffee, took a huge swallow, topped off the mug again and returned to his desk at a leisurely pace, waving to the receptionist as he rounded the corner. She blew him a crimson lip-sticked kiss and he caught it, slapped it to his ass and grinned as she giggled. He sat at his desk, pleased to see the cursor still flashing, and typed a quick “Back again.”

“Been caught by Dominic yet?”

“Not yet.” Josh had slid past the operations manager’s office in the hope of being undetected. He couldn’t cope with Dominic Cook prior to being caffeinated. Charlie found Josh’s fractious relationship with Dominic endlessly amusing. Josh had another word—many words— for their working relationship. Amusing wasn’t one of them.

“Did you hide from him?”

Josh pulled a face at the screen. Charlie knew him far too well. “It’s too early to deal with him.”

“Coward.”

“Sensible.”

It was all right for Charlie to fling random accusations around when he didn’t work for Dominic. Josh wasn’t entirely sure what Charlie did for CDR and Charlie was annoyingly closed-mouthed.

CDR, named after its founder, Callum David Ross, provided security for anyone who needed it; whether they were celebrities, big companies, or wealthy individuals who could afford CDR’s resources.

Two years ago, Josh had been head-hunted from his former company after he saved one of CDR’s high profile clients from an assassination attempt. Josh always maintained he was just in the wrong place at the right time but, after a cutting interview with Dominic which felt like he’d had the close hairs shaved off his balls; Josh was employed as part of a field team dealing with low profile but high risk clients. The rest of his team were currently two floors up in the gym beating the living shit out of each other. They were the muscle; Josh was the brains. At least in theory. Josh didn’t want to test it out. He had a feeling both men were more than capable of beating him in both brains and brawn.

Charlie left a new message. “You’ve got a new assignment.”

Josh frowned at the screen. “How do you know that?”

“You know I’m not going to tell you my sources.”

“Fuck. I’ve just got back from the last one. Mr. Truffles is gonna be pissed.”

Josh had recently been adopted by a chocolate brown cat who’d moved in one day and showed no signs of leaving. So far his neighbor had seen more of Mr. Truffles than he had.

“You know Eileen will love to have him again.”

“That’s what I’m worried about, Charlie. I swear one day she won’t give him back.”

“Angel.”

“Yes?”

“Be careful.”

Josh didn’t think Charlie was talking about the potential loss of a cat. He huffed and stabbed at his keyboard. “I’m always careful. You know that.” He’d built his reputation on protecting his clients and his team.

“I know, Angel. But this isn’t like your usual assignments.”

Josh could almost hear Charlie trying to sooth him but he was still feeling huffy. “I’ll do my job. You know. What I’m paid for.”

“I know you will. Just watch your back. Sorry, Angel. I’ve got to go.”

Josh stared at the screen for a long moment. He’d always suspected Charlie was high up in CDR’s ranks, but for Charlie to know about the assignments before he did only confirmed Josh’s suspicions.

“Cooper!”

Josh looked up to see his flame-haired operations manager waving from conference room one. “You yelled, oh great one?”

“Cut the crap,” Dominic growled. “It’s too early.”

“Yes, sir!” Josh saluted him smartly.

Dominic growled again. “Get the boys down here now!”

Josh sent a text to both members of his team and then sat back in his chair to finish his coffee. There was no point in rushing. They would take six minutes and forty-five seconds to shower and arrive from two floors up. In the meantime, he wondered whatever the hell was so serious that it had stuck a bug up Dominic’s butt and worried Charlie. He pulled out his notebook and logged this crisis under number 5440. Josh definitely had OCD tendencies, although not many people noticed until they discovered he never forgot anything, invariably to their cost.

After six minutes Josh headed into the conference room, a full mug of coffee in his hand. Dominic was staring pensively out of the rain-lashed window. He didn’t turn around as Josh entered so Josh took his usual seat and waited for Dominic to acknowledge him. Forty-five seconds later when the rest of the team arrived, Dominic was still staring out of the window.

Landry and Gil Grover, the so-called muscle of his team, took the seats flanking Josh. Twins, six-foot-four, dark skin and dark eyes, they were basically sex on legs. Josh had entertained more than one fantasy about being the filling in that particularly muscled sandwich. Unfortunately, they were both straight, laughed hysterically at the idea of being in the same bed and rejected the offer of Josh’s dick on numerous occasions. He kept trying though, for form’s sake. At least now they rejected him without threatening to rearrange his face. Josh didn’t take it personally. He was born to flirt. Sometimes he got lucky.

Gil raised an eyebrow at Dominic’s preoccupation and Josh shrugged in response. Aside from Charlie’s comment he knew no more than they did. Eventually, Dominic dragged himself away from the window to sit down at the table.

Josh leant back and stuck his feet up on the polished surface, crossing them at the ankles. Landry automatically knocked them down before Dominic exploded. Josh thought about doing it again but decided against it. He gazed around the table, flitting from one face to the other. Josh was sure none of the three men were Charlie. Landry and Gil had girlfriends. Landry’s girl was half his height and twice as scary and Gil liked to date stunning models. Dominic had a wife—supposedly. No one at CDR had ever seen her. He kept his personal life well away from the office.

“If you’re ready to do your job, Mr. Cooper?” Dominic snapped.

Josh slurped his coffee loudly and gave him a condescending wave. “Please, go ahead.”

His red brows almost knitting in the ferocity of his scowl, Dominic tapped at the iPad on the table. The screen on one wall sprang into life showing the round face of a man, his hair thinning on top and grey around the edges, but handsome enough, with a slightly crooked smile and teeth to match.

“Who is he?” Landry asked. Six minutes older and half an inch taller than his twin he was shy in a public situation but was always the one with the questions. It was easy to underestimate Landry. Josh didn’t make that mistake.

“Jonathan Michaels, thirty-eight,” Dominic said. “An entrepreneur who’s now a hedge fund investor in London. He’s gone missing.”

Gil tapped the table. “So why do we need to know about a missing Brit?”

Josh was equally confused. CDR focused on bodyguard work for celebrities and politicians. The agency never touched missing persons’ cases.

“Because he’s a friend of a friend,” Dominic replied. “We’ve been instructed to find him before Scotland Yard’s Serious Fraud Office does. You’re booked on a flight to London this evening. Details of which, along with the hotel information, have been forwarded to your emails.”

“We don’t do cases for friends,” Landry said in a flat tone. “Company policy.”

Dominic inclined his head. “Normally yes, but not this time. He’s insisted.”

He was the boss. Josh had never met Callum David Ross but he wasn’t in any hurry to rectify that situation. From office gossip CDR could snap people in half if they crossed him, pull out their intestines and fry them up for dinner. The stories may have been exaggerated but Josh had never met the guy. What did he know?

“When did he disappear?” Josh asked.

“Three weeks ago. October 30th,” Dominic said. “He left the office at 7.00 p.m. and never arrived home. The journey from his office to his house in Chelsea takes thirty minutes.”

“And we’re only just getting involved?” Josh knew in K&R three weeks was a lifetime.

“The local law enforcement, the Metropolitan Police, thought he was a jumper as his car was found by the Thames. His body’s not been found, although that’s not unusual. Sometimes they get stuck in the mud but the bodies usually turn up downstream after a few days. If he didn’t jump and he’s still alive, no ransom demand has been made.”

So no kidnap and ransom. “Why us?”

“Because money has gone missing,” Dominic said. “A lot of money, from his clients’ accounts.”

“And Michaels is the prime suspect?” Landry asked.

“That’s the general belief, yes.” Dominic’s frown intensified. He seemed personally pissed off about this case.

Landry leaned back in his seat and slurped his coffee, ignoring Dominic’s glare. “This sounds more like a job for the insurance company than us. An executive skipped off with the cash. Why isn’t their white collar division dealing with it?”

“What are you not telling us?” Gil demanded.

Dominic took a long time to answer but finally he said, “Jonathan Michaels is a partner in this agency. If he isn’t found this agency is at risk.”

Josh snapped his fingers. He knew that name sounded familiar. Before Josh had interviewed for his post, he’d found out all he could about CDR. Jonathan Michaels was the silent partner of CDR. An old college buddy of Callum David Ross and an extremely successful businessman, Jonathan had lent him the money to start the business eight years ago. Now he was in trouble and therefore, potentially, so was the agency. Josh tried not to process the thought that his job was at risk. He loved working at CDR. “Where do we start?”

“I’ve sent you everything we already know about Michaels,” Dominic said. “I’m going to follow the trail this end. There’s no record of him leaving the UK but that don’t mean jack. You coordinate the London operation and report back to me. Darryl and I will stay here and focus on his financials and his movements. Nothing else matters until we find Michaels, dead or alive.”

Josh waited for Dominic to say something else but the operations manager stood and scowled at them all. “Why are you still sitting here? You’ve got a plane to catch.”

Gil looked at Josh. “Meet at your desk in ten?”

“Yeah.” Josh finished his coffee and headed for a refill. He had a ton of phone calls to make before they left. Not the least of which was roping in his neighbor to look after his cat while he was away.

London in November. Christ, why couldn’t Michaels live somewhere hot?